Commodore 64 in 1988

Here’s sort of a double throwback. I found this episode of The Computer Chronicles from 1988 which talked about the ongoing popularity of the Commodore 64, which was by then a fairly old system.

It also talks about a “new” game called Tetris.

A little bit about the Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 was one of the most popular pre-IBM PC computers. Although it was released in the summer of 1982, months after the original IBM PC, it gained a lot of traction in the 1980s due to its low price. The C64 had similar specs to the IBM PC and added advanced color and sound. In the days when an IBM PC cost about $5,000 and a family car cost $10,000, the Commodore 64 came out at a $595 price point. That price later dropped to $300.

For most of its life, the Commodore 64 dominated home computing. Apple’s Macintosh and IBM’s Personal Computer would eventually win, with a combination of features and compatibility over multiple models. But for many users, the ’80s belonged to brands like Commodore and Atari who catered to home users.

A sad end

Commodore Business Machines was founded in 1954. It’s notable for producing some of the first low-priced calculators, as well as one of the very first computers to come in a complete package, the Commodore PET in 1977.

However, after driving the success of Commodore for thirty years, th company’s founder left Commodore in 1984. Jack Tramiel proceeded to buy Atari, which had been a unit of Warner Communications. (Warner Communication is now owned by AT&T.) Commodore went its own way with a new computer, the Amiga, which was not compatible with the 64. The Amiga was far ahead of its time and kept Commodore going for a few more years. However, by 1992 the company was seen as a dinosaur and had essentially stopped manufacturing. The 1990s and beyond belonged to Apple and Microsoft.

The mini C64

Recently, a company calling itself Commodore (but only slightly related to the original) has been selling a smaller version of the Commodore 64. The keyboard doesn’t actually work, and the box is essentially a video game emulator that looks like a Commodore 64. It’s gotten mixed reviews despite its $50 price tag. But, if this article has made you miss the old C64, look for it on most major retail sites and you’ll find it.

There are also a number of PC-based emulators which may or may not really be legal to use. But again, that’s up to you whether or not you want to go that direction.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.